Rio Tinto releases first quarter production results

20 April 2021

MELBOURNE, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said: “We achieved an overall solid operating performance in the first quarter. We have maintained guidance ranges in all our products, with site teams successfully managing the effects of significant rainfall, in particular at our Australian iron ore assets.

"It has been a period of deep reflection for the company, and I have personally spent a significant amount of time listening, learning and taking actions, in particular to better manage Traditional Owner partnerships and cultural heritage. I have appointed a new leadership team and the transition is progressing well. We have set out clear priorities to develop a stronger Rio Tinto. Our focus is to become the best operator, strive for impeccable ESG credentials, excel in development and secure a strong social licence. This ambition will enable us to continue to deliver superior returns to shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, and make a broader contribution to society."



Quarter 1


vs Q1


vs Q4

Pilbara iron ore shipments (100% basis) (Mt)




Pilbara iron ore production (100% basis) (Mt)




Bauxite (Mt)




Aluminium (kt)




Mined Copper (kt)




Titanium dioxide slag (kt)




IOC iron ore pellets & concentrate (Mt)




*Rio Tinto share unless otherwise stated


Q1 Operational update

  • Health, safety and well-being remains our top priority. Our all injury frequency rate (AIFR) of 0.35 improved versus the first quarter of 2020 (0.40). However, we recognise there is no room for complacency and continue to focus on providing strong support for our employees, contractors and host communities, while maintaining critical COVID-19 controls.
  • Pilbara iron ore shipments of 77.8 million tonnes (100% basis) were 7% higher than the first quarter of 2020. Production of 76.4 million tonnes (100% basis) was 2% lower, driven by above average wet weather in the mines through February and fixed plant reliability. Labour resource availability and weather challenges disrupted maintenance. Tropical Cyclone Seroja impacted mine and port operations in April. Full year iron ore guidance remains unchanged.
  • Bauxite production of 13.6 million tonnes was 2% lower than the first quarter of 2020 due to wet weather in Eastern Australia. The port at the Amrun mine closed for 14 days due to large swells and cyclones. Full year bauxite guidance remains unchanged.
  • Aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes was 3% higher than the first quarter of 2020, with the Becancour smelter, Quebec operating at full capacity and Kitimat, British Columbia nearing the end of its pot relining cycle.
  • Mined copper production of 120.5 thousand tonnes was 9% lower than 2020, with lower recoveries and throughput at Escondida and Kennecott partly offset by the anticipated higher grade from the Oyu Tolgoi open pit. Kennecott saw a marginal increase in head grade as it begins the transition into higher grades from the south wall ore, with grades expected to gradually increase through 2021. Oyu Tolgoi shipments have been affected by Chinese border restrictions due to increased cases of COVID-19 in Mongolia. We continue to work closely with authorities and our customers to manage the risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • Titanium dioxide slag production of 279 thousand tonnes was 5% lower than 2020 due to a planned furnace rebuild at the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane (RTFT) metallurgical complex in Quebec resulting in operation of 8 out of 9 furnaces.
  • Production of pellets and concentrate at Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) was 8% lower than 2020 due to the impacts of weather, loading unit availability on mine feed and reduced concentrator mill availability. There was a fire at one of the two reclaimers at the port on 31 March. Full year production guidance remains unchanged.
  • On 8 April, we released Taxes Paid: Our Economic Contribution 2020, showing that we made a total direct economic contribution of $47 billion in the countries and communities where we operate, including $8.4 billion of taxes and royalties.
  • As part of our Climate Strategy, in the first quarter of this year, we entered into two partnerships to progress our work to decarbonise our value chain. Together with Paul Wurth S.A. and SHS-Stahl-Holding-Saar GmbH & Co., we are exploring the viability of transforming iron ore pellets into low-carbon hot briquetted iron, a low-carbon steel feedstock, using green hydrogen generated from hydro-electricity in Canada. At our Boron site in California, we are exploring the deployment of Heliogen’s breakthrough solar technology which will use heat from the sun to generate and store carbon-free energy to power the mine’s industrial processes. Further details in the Climate change and our value chain section.

The full first quarter production results are available here

This announcement is authorised for release to the market by Rio Tinto’s Group Company Secretary.

LEI: 213800YOEO5OQ72G2R82

Classification: 3.1 Additional regulated information required to be disclosed under the laws of a Member State

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Source: Rio Tinto